"New Zealand is Middle Earth." You see this on a sign soon after arriving in Christchurch. It also appears in brochures. Other travelers say it to you. And it is essentially true, for the landscape of New Zealand is as beautiful and dramatic as viewers of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films imagine.
Today is the tenth anniversary of the first day of shooting for The Lord of the Rings. On October 11, 1999, Jackson and his camera crew set up outside Wellington on the north island to film Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin hiding under the roots of an old tree to escape the notice of the Nazgul. In the next three or four years, the cast and crew traveled all over country shooting scenes in forests, meadows, riverbeds, and mountains. You are never far from a The Lord of the Rings location in New Zealand.
Seeing how the movies would draw people to his country, Ian Brodie put together a series of guidebooks, the latest being The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook, Extended Edition, published in 2004 and reprinted in 2008. The guidebook includes descriptions and directions to locations where scenes were shot. Brodie adds whether locations are open to the public, a few stories about cast and crew, and lots of pictures. Of course, being five years old, there are some out of date details. The Lord of the Rings store in Queenstown has closed, and some of the packaged tours have changed. Still, the book can be used effectively to lead fans to hallowed ground. It is worth having just for the pictures taken by Brodie, Viggo Mortensen, Pierre Vinet, New Line Productions, and other sources.
The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook can easily be found in almost any gift shop in New Zealand, but that is a very long flight from almost anywhere other than Australia. Fans and libraries catering to them will have to buy their copies online. Once you get your copy and book a flight to New Zealand, you too can visit the Kawarau River (shown above) and become one of the Pillars of the Kings.
Brodie, Ian. The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook, Extended Edition. Auckland: HarperCollins, 2004, 2008. ISBN 9781869505301